Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Meh Ride and a New Saddle A LOT Sooner

Let's start with more adorable cats. Suffer! ;-)

Due to the cool temps, this was the scene at my house Monday morning as I worked from home.
Open windows, a breeze, full sun. Cat heaven.
My two girls watching the birds.
Penn and I finally had a meh ride. Don't get me wrong, our rides before haven't been completely butterflies and rainbows, and there wasn't anything terrible about Monday's ride. There were a couple worrisome points and I'm not sure how to fix them (ie stop them dead in their tracks... give me enough time to screw Penn up and I'll get it!), so I'm sure I'll be having another lesson here soon.

So Trainer took down the dressage arena for the season (I may have whined at her because I love the box and it gives me a focus of where to ride to/from in a huge baseball field) and dragged the arena until it was fluffy (yay!). I think Penn respects walls (no matter how small) very well, and maybe it was a combo of the evening ride time and a lack of walls, but he wasn't keen to reach for the bit, and he even got a little bold on me and found another forward gear.

I figured I would do easier trot work to settle him, like just going around the arena and working on the straight shallow loop, then a bending shallow loop. I found quite a bit of resistance on the left side of his body. When we started with him, he only wanted to bend left. Now he only wants to bend right!

So I added back the spiral in and out, and that little sucker was either doing his best giraffe impersonation or curling his chin into his chest. Now I know how to fix both of these: I need to send him more forward to push him to the bridle with steady hands, except I tried that and he's off running with his head up or chin tucked. I think this is where the dressage trainer that started him ran out of ideas. In all of his videos she let him run on the forehand and trip all over himself in trot and canter. Trainer and I watched the videos and we were like, for the love of all that is holy, HALF HALT PLEASE! So Penn started learning the half halt as soon as he got here (it works well now off the seat!). I think she never got him off the forehand because he went to tucking his chin and she didn't know what to do with it.

I ended up doing some trot work from sitting trot because I can manage it better, but I don't think Penn appreciated that. I only did it in the spirals so I could set him up properly for canter. I had a lot of trouble getting left lead canter, so obviously there's some crookedness that's happening that I can't put my finger on. Once I got him into left lead canter, I fought to keep it going for more than half a circle, but it was in general good. To the right was fantastic. But every time I'd bring him back to trot, he'd tuck his chin and run off. In sitting trot, I could get my half halt done and leg on and he'd come back up and look for the bridle, but that can't be my go-to answer, he's not ready to carry a rider at sit trot.

Monday was the only time that I felt like he might get naughty- he stopped looking for the bridle and was tense, so I automatically read that as "I'm ready to explode" which of course, he wasn't. I think he was just frustrated too.

I tried asking him to flex at the poll right and left in the walk- there was a lot of resistance to the left with that too.

Maybe he just needs a day off? I don't know. He'll have off Wednesday and Thursday this week due to my work.

I took him back up to the barn after a halfway decent left lead canter, and he continued to be a little snot in the cross ties. He either stands there, or breaks out of them by flying backwards. Monday night, he kept purposefully stepping backwards. I eventually hit him in the butt with his fleece boots when he'd start taking backwards steps. He'd move forward immediately and had a sad face of "ohhh, you caught me!"

I think my saddle might have a lot to do with these issues. He's not fond of being saddled, but he doesn't complain with more than an ear flick. Monday, he complained. I did up the girth and he was snatchy with his face. Ears back, head up. I asked trainer to let me know when the CWD lady will be out to fit her new saddle, because I want to talk to her about options and try some saddles. Especially options that can be tweaked at the end of next summer if he fills out a ton more. I think he's also a good candidate for a Total Saddle Fit Girth, which I do have, but it's Mikey's 24" and Penn needs a 20" right now. For me to get the billets in the right spot for the girth to be in the girth groove, I'm pulling my saddle WAY up his shoulders. Jump saddle is like that too, by the way. I seem to remember the TSF girth eliminating some girthy horses' issues in the many reviews online. I'm hesitant to buy another one now though, only because I don't know what size I'll need (20" or 22"), depending on how the billets sit on my new, undetermined saddle and the fact that Penn is still filling out. Le sigh. I'm sorry Penn :( Maybe we'll just do work in the jump saddle. You liked that one! I don't want to ruin his good attitude or make him girthy, which is why I'm willing to take the plunge now before I'm really financially ready for it.

The horses went out with sheets on Monday night. Sad. It was a cool night with a chance of rain. Trainer didn't want them left in, but didn't want them getting rained on when it was so cool. She's becoming a softie! But I like it. I'm a blanket person, sorry! But for the last 7-8 years, I've also shaved my horse every winter so I had to replace his hair. Mikey was strange- he got cold easily, yet would sweat up a storm with all his winter hair (or without), so I body clipped him and then put a million layers of clothes on him to make sure he stayed warm.

This is Mikey's size 78 Tipperary Sheet. Le sigh. It's the smallest 78" in Mikey's blanket collection.
The rest of the clothes are going to be so big on Penn, but I am not buying new clothes! Mikey's are in great condition and are a nice quality! That and I have 2 hoods and 5 active use blankets and 2 backups!


  1. Haha, the curse of the slightly-smaller new horse. You think everything will fit, but no, of course it doesn't.

    1. Ha! I knew it would be close. But I wasn't really expecting EVERYTHING to be "ehhhh, he could really use the next size down". I was surprised by the girth not fitting better. Maybe in a year he'll have filled out to need that 24", but I kind of don't see that happening!

    2. BTW I looked for used Total Saddle Fit girths on google, hoping someone had one that they didn't need anymore... and your girth review popped up near the top of my result list!

  2. I hope you find a new saddle without too much drama. Sorry that it's necessary :(

    1. Thanks. I Facebook messaged the local tack shop asking them if they could get a Stubben Euphoria in from their Rep for me to try. I got spooked looking at CWD's website today- they only show one dressage model and it mentioned "holding your core steady" or something like that, and I don't want to be held in my saddle. I'm good enough that I don't need or want the restriction of big blocks. I knew it would be necessary, but apparently Penn is a sensitive soul like Mikey and wants his saddle NOW. He came to the right house for catering to sensitive souls though. And I don't want to ruin him by making him uncomfortable being ridden or cause permanent girthyness (he wasn't when Alice tacked him up!) so... new saddle! On the plus side, there's a girl in the barn who wants my Jaguar... badly... and it fits her horse nicely, so at least I'll be able to sell it quickly as long as she likes sitting it.

  3. first of all - your cats continue to be adorable; and secondly - can you teach my mare the half halt too plz?!?

    lol seriously tho, all our horses are getting slightly more 'bold' and sassy lately too. the one downside of cooler temps :(